Diageo: Programmatic enables us to do ‘really great marketing’

A ‘controlled and pragmatic’ approach to the way Diageo uses digital is helping it form new global partnerships with publishers and driving sales.

The digital ecosystem, with all its fraud, viewability and brand safety issues, is increasingly seen as a murky and challenging place for brands to be. And with Procter & Gamble saying this week it is planning to slash “wasted” digital media spend by half, many other marketers will no doubt be wondering whether they should be pulling the purse strings and following suit.

Diageo, however, is not one of them. Its head of global digital media partnerships, Jerry Daykin, says he is confident it is approaching digital in a “controlled and pragmatic” way that is allowing it to do “really great marketing” while minimising the risks associated with online advertising and, importantly, driving sales.

“We use programmatic on very direct partnerships we have with pages and clients and platforms where we know what they are,” Daykin said at the Guardian’s Changing Media Summit today (7 March).

“That doesn’t take out all the risks or make everything instantly transparent but it gives us a lot of confidence that we are taking a cautious approach to that.”

The most recent of these partnerships is between Diageo’s Smirnoff brand and Spotify, which have joined forces in an effort to drive awareness of gender bias in music by allowing consumers to see the impact of their own listening habits.

It forms part of Diageo’s long-term strategy to increase the representation of women in the music industry with its ‘Smirnoff Equalizer’ campaign, which Daykin said programmatic is playing a key role in.

“This is a real direct way of supporting up and coming women in music – if they get more streams, they ultimately get more money – and that’s a really great, rich creative, brand-led advertising campaign; and programmatic technology is allowing us to bring that to life,” Daykin explained.

“It’s not a programmatic campaign, it’s a really rich partnership. One of our marketing fundamentals at Diageo is personalisation at scale and programmatic allows us to achieve that. We don’t talk about it being a technology or channel in itself, we just try and do really great marketing and programmatic enables that.”

To achieve “a nice clean read” on the campaign’s digital performance, Diageo won’t be running the campaign across more traditional forms of media during the campaign period. While there will be interim digital metrics in place, Daykin said the focus will mostly be on sales.

“We don’t think digital works because our agency gives us a nice number,” Daykin said. “It’s because we see our sales increase.”

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